My Country

fourth of july

My Country

Tis of thee,

I breathe the oxygen-rich air

Of freedom and self-determination.

 

Because of thee,

I have an inkling of

The depth and breadth

Of God’s creative power.

 

Indeed, purple mountains’ majesty

Graces this rich, sweet land of liberty.

From sea to shining sea, nature’s bounty awes,

And affords us wealth beyond belief.

 

Tis of thee,

I claim a heritage

of the value of every man.

A creed of equality

That even in its limited light,

Heralded the dawn of a new day.

 

Tis of thee,

I wrestle with patriotic paradox.

Greed and generosity war within our collective soul-

A defining conflict of the ugly and the beautiful.

 

Tis of thee,

Democracy became a destiny,

Spreading liberty,

But also destruction,

Like a wildfire that could not be contained.

 

Tis of thee,

Many a flourishing culture lost its way of life.

And enslaved generations toiled in the fields of another’s dream.

A trail of tears watered endless acres of this new “freedom land”

With the salty taste of despair.

 

Is any human endeavor

Or inspiration ever entirely noble?

The land of stars and stripes

Is no exception.

Even today,

A complicated cornucopia of

Truths and hidden agendas

Spills from every corner of this country.

 

And so America,

I offer you a birthday wish

On this your 237th birthday:

May you only be the best of what you’ve been.

May all within your care

Truly crown your good with brotherhood,

And strive to leave this fair country

Better than we received it.

 

May we indeed, be a home of the brave

And not just a land of the free.

May justice and mercy,

Wisdom and integrity,

As well as freedom,

Ring.

 

kerry peterson   July 4, 2013

* Excerpts from The Star Spangled BannerMy Country Tis of Thee, and America the Beautiful  included.

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